The Kansas Bureau of Investigation advises parents to check online for registered offenders in their neighborhoods and areas their children plan to trick-or-treat, prior to Halloween festivities.
The website www.kbi.ks.gov/registeredoffender shows where registered sex offenders, drug offenders and other violent offenders reside. The site allows searches within three miles of an address. Users can also perform searches by name, zip code and county, or sign up to receive alerts if an offender registers in the community.
A quick search revealed dozens of registered offenders within a mile of the Great Bend Tribune. State law does not prevent them from passing out candy, wearing costumes or otherwise participating in Halloween activities, unless they are on parole or probation and the activity is specifically restricted. Registered offenders are free to decorate their houses and attend any festival, party or parade. However, schools, churches, malls and other private properties may have their own stipulations prohibiting offender participation.
Approximately 11,000 offenders are registered in Kansas and live and work among our communities, according to the KBI.
While being aware of the offenders near your home, school or workplace is good practice, being mindful of your surroundings and remaining vigilant is equally as important.
The KBI offers these additional tips:
• An adult should accompany children at all times, especially if trick-or-treating at unknown residences.
• Children should not enter residences or structures of individuals unknown to them.
• Teens and older children should stay in groups, and be instructed to check in frequently with a parent or guardian.
• If out after dark, carry flashlights or wear reflective clothing.
• Ensure candy is in its original packaging before allowing children to eat it.
Halloween should be an enjoyable time for families, though safety must also be a priority.